“I love you more than the taste of your mouth, more that your look, more than your hands, more than your whole body, more and more and more and more than all my love for you will ever be able love and I sign Picasso.”
These are the last words you see as you leave an exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso inspired by his love of Marie-Thèrése Walter. But they do not truly capture the passion of the drawings, paintings and sculptures at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.
The show begins with some photos of Marie-Therese and you then recognise her profile transformed in Picasso’s works in a countless ways.
A 45-year old Picasso encountered his muse when she was just 17 in Paris in 1927. He said:
You have an interesting face. I would like to do your portrait. I have a feeling we will do great things together.
I fell in love with love with art when I went to see a Matisse exhibition and the paintings were so powerful they hit me with a physical force.
I felt the same sensation in the second gallery which contained two statues surrounded by four walls of stunning pictures – in particular it was heard to drag myself away from the trio of “Femme assise près de la fenêtre”, “Femme assise au conde appuyeé sue le genou” and “Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge.”
As the exhibition literature says:
She became the catalyst for some of his most exceptional work, from groundbreaking paintings to an inspired return to sculpture in the 1930s, according her an almost mythic stature and earning her immortality as an art historical subject. Yet her true identity remained a secret from even Picasso’s closest friends. Even after Marie-Thérèse bore their daughter Maya in 1935, Picasso would continue to divide his time between his professional life as the most famous artist in the world, and his secret family life, spending Thursdays and weekends with her and Maya and amassing a trove of love letters and snapshots exchanged while they were apart.
While it is inspiring to see that love can inspire such great art, at the same time it is heartbreaking to find that this love did not last.
Two months after their daughter Maya was born, Picasso attended a movie opening and met his new mistress – photographer Dora Maar.
Unable to go on living now that Picasso was dead, Marie-Thérèse took her own life in 1977, 50 years after they met. (Vanity Fair)
However , as the exhibition makes clear, her spirit lives on.
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